When I was last in Paris I visited the old studio of Toulouse-Lautrec on Rue de Caulaincourt and was informed enough to know that his one time muse and mistress Suzanne Valadon lived a stones throw away.
Suzanne was an artist in her own right but there is some dispute as to her ability. Naturally enough Toulouse-Lautrec encouraged her in her work but this no doubt would have been down to the fact that they were intimate. My understanding is that Lautrec’s peers didn’t celebrate her work with the same enthusiasm.
In short Suzanne pestered Lautrec to marry her but on one occasion outside her apartment he overheard a conversation between Suzanne and her mother about their plan to trap him into marriage and I guess in doing so secure both their financial futures.
Lautrec being no fool opted out and they went their separate ways.
Suzanne later had a son named Maurice Utrillo who somewhat inevitably became an artist more celebrated than his mother and who had a serious alcohol problem but that is were my knowledge of him starts and ends so I decided that I would one day research more about this painter.
Anyway, coming back to the book, I was generally perusing on-line and came across the above book and ordered it simply because of the title “Man of Montmartre,” what was not to like? Man of Montmartre, a travel book perhaps? One man’s journey and experiences, could be?
Without any thought I ordered it without even bothering to read any further as to what it was about so imagine my surprise when I took delivery of the book and discovered that the “Man of Montmartre” was non other that Maurice Utrillo!
I guess my research on Maurice will be taking place sooner rather than later.
The book I purchased dates back to 1958, written by Stephen and Ethel Longstreet, was imported from the USA and was the former property of the Strake Jesuit College Prep Library.
When I looked over the book and turned to the back sleeve I discovered the original library booking out card with no apparent stamp indicating that no one had ever taken it out. Judging by the quality of the book I would suggest it has never been read.
However, what made my smile was when I pulled out the card from its holding pocket to find that it had been endorsed by someone (I’ll never know by who or when) the words “Oh please check me out, please.”
Someone indeed had a sense of humour.
Well sadly, it was never booked out but it has now found a permanent home with me and be assured it will be read for the first time.